Tuesday, January 13, 2009
R.I.P. Uncle Rex
My uncle Rex died last Wednesday after a long battle with a rare disease. Rex was the only brother of my mother who died when I was eleven years old. He was a graduate of my alma mater, Queen Anne High School. And in his senior year won a state championship title by running a 4:21 mile. The summer after my mother passed away, Rex took me on a 300+ mile bike-ride down the Oregon coast. At the time I thought my uncle did this because I was such a cool nephew. It wasn't until years later that I was able to correctly understand his desire/intent to help me through a very dificult time. Typical Rex. Helping and teaching in a way that made you feel like you were helping him.
All who knew Rex mourn his passing and look forward the great reunion "on the other side." I am thankful to have been shaped and molded by my Hollowell heritage. My love of story and off-kilter sense of humor were bequeathed to me by both sides of my family, but especially from the Hollowell side. Rex will be remembered by all as a man who loved God, his wife (my aunt Joan) and his children and grandchildren intensely; a man who thought clearly and demanded the same of those around him; a man who (like his Savior) felt called to mock and expose those who abused their positions of authority; a consumate teacher who could make even subjects like Logic and Philosophy come alive to his students; a man who preferred walking to driving, solid oak to chipboard, and Saabs to Fords (i.e. he liked the "good stuff" enough to sacrifice and save for it.) Rex will be remembered fondly for his dry wit, ready retorts and disarming sense of humor.
But the legacy that I most cherish, will longest remember, and by God's grace emulate, is Rex's indefatigable thankfulness. In the iron-grip of MSA (Multiple Symptom Atrophy, a disease with ALS/Lou Gherig's Disease-like symptoms) Rex was ever the cheerful and thankful soul. As my aunt Joan commented early on in the disease's progress, "It's taking from him his two favorites activities in life - walking and talking." And yet every time anyone asked him how he was doing, his reply, invariably was a happy, albeit laborious , "Won...........der..........ful." A wonderful word displaying a profound understanding of God's wonderful grace uttered by someone whom all will remember as a wonderful man.
It just occurred to me that Rex's passing, as painful as it is, has completed and accomplished a long awaited reunion, long delayed by disease and death. Rex's father (my grandfather) Homer, died when Rex was very young. Rex's sister (my mother) died when Rex was 32. Rex's mother (my grandmother) died just a few years ago. This little family, formed by God, and for a time deformed by death, has been wonderfully reformed in heaven. I sure hope that this reunion is being "taped" for our enjoyment later on. O death, where now is your sting? Where is your victory?
Obituary:HOLLOWELL, Rex Leon
Passed away the evening of the 7th of January after a long battle with MSA. He is survived by his wife Joan; son Sean; and daughter Staci. Rex was born in Kansas in 1939 to Marie and Homer Hollowell. After the early passing of her husband Marie went to work as a house mother at a local college. This led to a job at Seattle Pacific University. Rex later attended Seattle Pacific where he and Joan met. Following his graduation from SPU Rex attended Edinburgh University Seminary for a year. He returned to Seattle to marry Joan and pursue a Master's Degree in Philosophy from the University of Washington. A teaching opportunity at Spokane Falls Community College brought the new family to Spokane where he enjoyed a 32 year career teaching philosophy. His extended family includes Sean's wife Darcy and their two girls, Cecilia and Ada, and Staci's husband Eric. A celebration service will be held at Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church.